Hopelessly Seeking Honest Competent Roofer

To cut to the chase, I have long since passed the point of exasperation in searching for an honest competent roofer. I could write a whole book on this topic, but am trying to summarize here. Years ago, when searching for a roofer to re-roof my large older house, I methodically called every roofer I could find, even extending the search to other cities 30 miles away. When I described the height of house and complexity of its roof (several valleys, many angled roof sections, many roof sections meeting vertical walls), most of the roofers declined the job stating it was too complex for them to handle. I suspect the real reason they declined without even seeing the house was that they just want to make “easy money” by quickly doing only the simplest two-surface roofs, where they can get the job done in one day and walk away with $thousands.

A few of the roofers I called came to assess the job. Of those, again, all of them declined the job as beyond the simplistic capabilities of their team. This is just a large two-story plus attic older house. It is NOT rocket science. My conclusion was simply that no one really wants to work anymore, but they DO want easy money. If this sounds like an unfair conclusion, —well—, I have yet to be dissuaded from this view by any evidence to the contrary.

After six months of calling roofers, at last one company agreed to do the job. Of course they gave me all the usual assurances of doing expert work, with warranty. I had to wait til the first big rain to see the first problems: inadequate skill and attention to doing the chimney flashing, so it leaked. (Since then, the other chimney is also now badly leaking because of improper flashing). I called them about the first chimney, and they did not properly flash it even then, but only showed up with a tube of silicone to squirt here and there. Later another roof leak occurred elsewhere. I called them repeatedly over a period of months; of course they were not responsive but gave excuses such as they are behind schedule and so-and-so is on vacation, etc… the usual nonsense. After several months of calling they finally agreed to take a look. I warned the company that this leak appeared more involved than something that can be fixed in 10 minutes by a quick visit with a tube of black roof caulk. But that is exactly what they showed up with! Needless to say, their uninvolved slapdash fast “fix” did not fix the leak. After that, they simply stopped taking my calls. So much for the usual “Roof Warranty”! None of them are worth the quarter-inch of paper they are written on. Just try to get a roofer to honor a warranty! Good luck hiring lawyers, etc, and let me know how that works for you…

Since then, and for some years now, I have been living with a growing number of roof leaks, and calling other roofers about repairs. It seems that none of them are interested in a mere repair job, presumably because it doesn’t pay as big as a full new roof job. After calling many roofers, one arrived and brought his ladder to take a look. He was a very experienced roofer in this area, whom we had previously paid to put on several other roofs. He could not identify just what needed repair, or the source of the leak. So he would not take the job, stating that he would not know what to charge. And this is one of the better roofers around! I have not been able to find any roofer who does repairs. In my current opinion, the most “repair” a typical roofer is willing to do is to knock down a nail that has backed out, and maybe quirt some black roof caulk on it. They will not take on the job of finding the source of a persistent leak, and truly correcting the problem.

Bottom line: even if I could find a roofer to fix these leaks, I would not be able to trust his work, and would certainly never trust any “warrantied” work because that is simply meaningless. At this point, the only feasible alternative that I can imagine is to just move into a smaller ranch house with a plain A-style roof and no chimneys. And I am not prepared to relocate and abandon the longtime family “heirloom” house and back buildings over the issue of a roof that no one seems able to handle!

I will not enlarge this note to include other such problems I have experienced on other houses, such as the time we got a new roof on another house and the roofer immediately voided by 35yr shingles warranty by improper “vertical racking” of the shingles to save time. (Plus other serious problems). It turns out that the homeowner has to become fully educated on correct roofing methods in order to even begin to anticipate some of the countless problems that most roofers will cause. Usually, even the roofer is not always aware of just how incompetent their methods and corner-cutting are. The problems roofers cause usually do not show up until later, since sometimes it takes very long persistent rains for certain issues to appear. They get paid, and really do NOT want to ever come back.

Well, this is my experience with roofers over the decades. The best roof I ever had was on a garage, and guess who did 100% of the work? ===> Right, I did, without any help. But my roofing days are over, so I am back at square one. I simply do not see any way to get an honest and competent job from any roofer, or to hold them to any warrantied work.

Where are you located? There are competent roofers out there with integrity.

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I am going to guess that you weren’t willing to pay top dollar for the right company. Every area has at least a few very good roofing companies but they are expensive, for good reason. You assume that these roofers only want simple jobs to make “thousands” but we do better on large, challenging jobs. You should be grateful that these guys were at least up front with you instead of taking on a job they weren’t capable of doing. Oh and congratulations on your perfect garage roofing job.

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I don’t bill a repair until it is proven successful. Cut up, complex roofs cost more to install. Straight gable walkers are cheap, the price goes up from there…

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That guess is incorrect. Actually the issue of cost had little chance of even coming up because, if you read the above article, you will see that I literally called every roofer I could find just to get some company to show up to give an estimate. As I stated, it took six months to even reach a roofer who would come to estimate after they asked the size of the house. I never weeded out any roofer because their estimate was too high. In the end, only one roofing company would even attempt the job, at any price. I am in the Southeast. One would think that there are countless roofers around who want to work. The cost of the job was over $12,000 and this quite a few years ago. I suspect that as of 2020, a company would estimate around $20,000. Again: this is simply for ONE new roof on a fairly big older house. This is NOT a $28million dollar mansion. I have witnessed enough roof installations to see firsthand what sort of corners they so often cut, how they routinely void warranties by improper methods, and even a good bit of evidence suggesting that they appear to have no real work standards and they very often appear to hire anyone they can get to work, regardless of skill level and work ethics. In another case (another house, roofer not hired by me), I had to tell the job foreman that “no one on your team knows how to install a roof”. I am going out of my way to be polite here, as opposed to lowering this to telling some of the worse aspects I have seen and encountered. Bottom line: I see no way to rely on any sort of reviews or reputation checks to improve one’s chance of finding a reputable company that stands behind their work.

I partially agree with your last statement but still feel you’re stereotyping ALL roofers with lowest common denominator.

Reviews are basically useless. Some of the worst roofers in our area are highly rated.

Checking references CAN be effective but requires extra diligence. Any roofer can provide a few names of clueless customers who haven’t yet encountered problems with their work. I always agree to provide as many names as people want, not just hand pick a few. Basically take my customer list, throw a dart at it and call that name.

There ARE quality roofers in your area you just have to find them. What was or is your career? I’m sure it could be stereotyped by the bad seeds also.

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I agree with just about everything you posted. We recently had our ranch home with a chimney re-roofed by a big box store. We paid about 20% more than several local roofing companies. Now this big box store hired a contractor who hired a sub-contractor. Since day one there were problems when I observed a man on my roof overlapping the underlayment the wrong directions. We now have had the roof on for over 2 months and have had leaks around our chimney. As for the chimney first it was their flashing. Then is was several cracks in the bricks above that I seals. It is now water tight. But now we have shingles not laying flat, course running crooked. Exposures and offset not to specs, and vents not installed to manufacturers specifications.

Here is what gets me. I am surprised at the amount of comments I got here from roofers who state what they have seen in the pictures I posted was acceptable. If the shingle company calls for 5-5/8 exposures I expect it not to be different. Even here I think there are many roofers who I would never want to work for me. Good luck finding someone.

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You didn’t hire a roofer, you hired a “big box” store. That’s like paying taxes / govt work. By the time everybody gets their cut, there’s nothing left to do the job properly. Seems most of the roofers that post here are running their own companies and wouldn’t want to destroy their reputation. You are using the wrong venue to rant, in my opinion.

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Can I give multiple likes for that Dark? I wouldn’t buy flooring, paint, etc. from a big box store. Why would someone think they’d get a good roof through them? Do you think Walmart sells better meat than your local butcher also? Use your head and quit blasting the trade so many of us honor and respect by showing integrity and pride in EVERYTHING we do.

Almost went on a rant for the OP. I know I’ve walked away from a lot of jobs due to the owner knowing more about roofing than I do, and knowing that no matter what I did for him just wouldn’t be enough. Nobody wants to have to say they got ripped off, but if they do, they’ll tell everybody they can. I got a lot of work by taking a job for a loudmouth a-hole and making him happy. Didn’t know his reputation when he signed the contract…

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Advice for any newbies in the trade: If you show up for a bid and homeowner is trashing all previous subs who have worked on his property; concrete, landscaping,etc. then walk away. You will most likely be next on his list no matter what kind of work you do.

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Main reason I gave up on residential was the legal work of getting paid. Seemed to accelerate 10-15 years ago.

I don’t take any deposits and tell people I will be coming down the ladder upon completion with my hand out for a check. Haven’t had a problem collecting in over 5 years and we do a minimum of 150-200 reroof/repairs per year. Might just be the area we do business in.

When you’re immersed in running a business, you are busy! I do commercial repairs alone and grab a grunt if I need one. No payroll, insurance audits are done with a phone call / email, no workers comp, no liability - it was leaking when they called!, temp repair- scope / schedule permanent. The pressure is off, I’m in control of the velocity… Went to Vegas on “vacation” 30 years ago, up before dawn helping an old guy hump mission tile up a ladder on the hotel I was in… couldn’t slow down.

I had a realtor that I did work for a few years ago - the stream was steady, but for every “Can I contact the customer (or tenant) to make arrangements?”, I was dealt with “Oh, they are kind of a problem - you need to let me deal with that.”… didn’t take long to recognize that SHE was the hassle, not the clients.
& This wasn’t a case of her trying to get some $$ for eac GB transaction, she genuinely HAD to be in the middle of everything.

Realtors are, by definition, high maintenance but if you want growth in your company they are a necessary evil. The realtors I respect that do business the same way we do are solid gold. Any realtors that try to suggest what they hope my findings are on an inspection are instantly 86’D. (I don’t know how to write that properly, never been a bartender).

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Good to see you alive and kickin RanchHand.

Im looking to hire a supervisor in Los Angeles area let me know if any of you interested.

Thanks
Dave

Unfortunately there are a lot of people who get into roofing and do exactly as you described. I don’t know what area you are on it but there are certainly regional differences.

My advice would be to find a decent sized local company that does commercial and residential roofs. Find one that has been around for 10 years at least and go in and sit down with an estimator and explain your situation. Or even a pure commercial company. They will know who the good residential contractors are in town. What you want to find is a contractor who is not a “volume” company but more of a specialty company. They are around if you look for them.

You may start with the " i can do it myself but im really busy or i dont have a ladder ’

I did my garage roof in 2 hours with my wife .

Thats maybe why nobody 'can do it ’ for you

I may wrong